Summer is here! While soaking in the warm sun and enjoying outdoor activities are top priorities,
now is the time for co-parents to work together to formalize summer plans so that everyone can focus on maximizing summer fun with the kids. Here are five tips to a stress free summer:
- Review your Parenting Agreement: A careful review of your Parenting Agreement regarding the summer schedule is the first place to start. If you and your co-parent have not finalized a summer plan, then there is no better time than the present to work out the schedule and logistics. Make sure you are in compliance with any notice requirements and immediately alert the co-parent if there are any issues regarding the plan terms.
- Set the calendar. Avoid miscommunication and ambiguities by reducing the summer plans to a calendar. There are several helpful tools and programs which allow families to efficiently and effectively communicate about scheduling including, but not limited to, Google Calendar, Our Family Wizard and 2houses.com
- Summer holidays and special events. Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day come at the same time each year. If your parenting plan does not designate a holiday schedule, then try to address a proposed holiday plan with your co-parent well in advance of the holiday. If you are unable to resolve the issue directly, then consider contacting a mediator or lawyer in an effort to reach an amicable resolution. Keep in mind, spending quality time is what matters to your child and not the date on the calendar!
- Travel plans. There is nothing better than a family vacation. Make sure you provide your travel plans, including itinerary, lodging accommodations, and contact information for the children. If traveling overseas, be sure you have the requisite travel documents including passports, visas, and any travel document requiring the co-parent’s signature. Be sure to follow your parenting plan regarding notice requirements, the timing of exchange of travel documents, and other terms relating to travel plans. If you do not have a Parenting Agreement (or the Agreement does not specify travel terms), then notify your co-parent immediately about your proposed summer travel plans with the children. If you cannot reach an agreement, then contact a mediator or lawyer to assist you in finding an amicable resolution. However, be realistic about the timing of your travel plans, especially if there is limited notice for non-emergency travel plans.
- Be flexible. Co-parenting, especially during the summer, requires a level of flexibility as summer plans are more likely to change than during the school year. Specifically, depending on your child’s age, the child may have his or her own ideas about the summer schedule or travel plans. That said, children have little choice in the parenting schedule. A level of cooperation and flexibility is tantamount to having an enjoyable summer.
Summer is arguably the best time of year, especially in Chicago! What better way to ensure that this summer is filled with making memories with your child than working with your co-parent to solidify a summer plan that works for everyone.